"I have been blessed in my life. I can’t say whether there was a particular reason for it. I feel God just pointed His finger at me and said you are the one right now,? stated Dionne. And indeed, she has had several ‘firsts’ in her life. She was the first artist to rack up a dozen consecutive Top 100 hit singles from 1963-1966. She was the first African American solo female artist of her generation to be awarded "Best Contemporary Female Vocal Performance." Ella Fitzgerald also received the award. "I certainly was in good company." Dionne chuckled, referring to Ms. Fitzgerald. Dionne was the first African American female to appear before Queen Elizabeth in 1968 for a Royal Command Performance. ?That was an overwhelming experience. I didn’t realize I was the first female to do this. I just realized it was an honor. People like Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr., were invited there long before I was ever thought of. I had made several hits at that time and was spending a lot of time in England so perhaps the Queen decided to recognize me? recalled the songstress.
By Deardra Shuler
If life is a journey and each of us has choice as to the road we travel, then it appears some choose to sit out life along the roadside while others live a life of adventure and gusto. The latter are people with a passion for living. They are imbued with a desire to evolve and manifest all their creative resources, ambitions, and goals. Dionne Warwick is one such person. She is a woman of great accomplishment, whether it is derived via creative endeavor or humane pursuit. She has worked with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, raised money for AIDS research, spearheaded a history book about African and African-American history. She is a woman that knows; if one wills it to be, then so shall it be.
Born Marie Dionne Warrick, on December 12, 1940, Ms. Warwick grew up in East Orange, New Jersey. She continues to maintain a home in Orange. "I love New Jersey although I have lived in several places. It’s the state I grew up in. I know everyone here. I am in a family environment. I lived in LA for almost 30 years but L.A., is very suburban. LA is very widespread making it difficult to connect to people. Competition on the West Coast is so different than on the East Coast. On the east coast, one has a better chance of getting assistance. The West Coast is more intense. Everyone wants to be discovered, to be a star. Everyone looks the same. If you are blonde with blue eyes, then everyone is blonde with blue eyes. The same thing is happening within the music industry now, everyone wants to look alike, sound alike, and be alike. Perhaps change will come when people realize they only need to be themselves." explained Dionne.
"My first knowledge of singing was at age 6, when my grandfather had me sing in his church. I sang with a group called the Gospelaires with my sister Dee Dee and Aunt Cissy and with the Drinkard Singers, a group managed by my mother. That was my aunt and uncle and her brothers and sister’s group. Singing was a blessing that God bestowed upon us and it was up to us to carry it through,’ explained Dionne whose father was a chef, Pullman Porter, and Jack of all Trades and mastered them all. A virtue that has obviously rubbed off on Dionne who mastered hit song after hit song. Songs such as: "Don’t Make Me Over," "Walk On By," "I Say A Little Prayer" "Do You Know the Way To San Jose?" "Then Came You," "Deja Vu," "That’s What Friends Are For," "Alfie," et al. Her collaboration with songwriters, arrangers, and composers Burt Bacharach and Hal David brought her instant stardom. Her association with Bacharach and David racked up 30 hit singles and 20 best selling albums.
Dionne also designs houses. "I met these two young men at a cocktail party in Los Angeles. One was into architecture and asked whether I would be interested in interior designing. He likened the idea that I, as a singer and entertainer, had to have knowledge of color, harmony, texture and so why not apply it to something else. Interior design was innately within me and I have worked on many homes of renowned people in L.A. I have worked on my own home which is very eclectic. I have collected things from all over the world so I find my home to be very peaceful and happy," said the 5 time Grammy winner.
Brazil has become her home. "I love everything about Brazil: the land, people, and the culture. I know enough Portuguese to get by. However, I returned to New Jersey during my mother’s illness (her mother recently passed) so I haven’t been back to Brazil in 2 years. But Brazil is my real home now" says Dionne.
Presently resting from her 3-year world tour, Dionne is putting together her 2006 itinerary which includes U.S. solo touring in 2006. She plans a TV celebration of her 45 years in show business at the Kodak Theatre in LA., produced by David Gest. Stars such as Gladys Knight, Beyonce, George Benson, Patti LaBelle, et al., will be in attendance. Dionne has a new clothing line she will be selling on television and retail department outlets in conjunction with fashion mogul, Sal DiSanto. She is planning a new duet CD featuring her biggest hits. International star Wanda Dee, the wife of Impresario Eric Floyd, is re-recording Dionne’s "I’ll Never Love This Way Again." Floyd and Dee are in the planning stages of a television, concert/tour entitled Eric Floyd’s Grand Divas of Stage featuring Grand Divas Dionne Warwick, Shirley Bassey & Eartha Kitt. A 12-city, U.S. tour sponsored by Wells Fargo, and an international tour is being planned. This should be the prestige concert ticket of 2006.
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